Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Vladmir Putin meet for the first time in 16 years

The leaders met on Monday at the Kremlin: Pic: AP

Syrian President Bashar al Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, their first meeting since 2015.

According to the Kremlin, Mr. Putin congratulated his opponent on winning the presidential election in May.

Most Western countries ignored the election, which Mr. Assad is claimed to have won with 95 percent of the vote.

Mr. Putin also used Monday's meeting to laud President Assad's re-establishment of control over the country after a decade of conflict.

"Terrorists had suffered very serious damage," he said, according to the Kremlin, "and the Syrian government, led by you, controls 90 percent of the territories."

However, he is said to have cautioned that foreign forces deployed in Syria without UN approval were an obstacle to the country's consolidation.

The two presidents met for the first time since a summit in Syria's capital, Damascus, in January 2020.

According to the Kremlin, President Assad also praised Mr. Putin for bringing help to Syria and efforts to stop the "spread of terrorism"

He commended Russia's and Syria's military for "liberating occupied territories" in his country, calling Western sanctions "antihuman" and "illegitimate"

The presidents were then joined by Syria's foreign minister and Russia's defense minister for talks on terrorism and mutual relations, according to Syrian official media.

Hundreds of thousands of people have perished in Syria's civil war, which began in 2011 following peaceful protests spurred by the Arab Spring, and millions have fled or been internally displaced.

President Assad has regained nearly all of the area he lost throughout the conflict thanks to Russian assistance.

Hundreds of Russian troops remain in Syria, and opposition activists claim that Russian jets have lately bombed Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold.

While the COVID crisis has served to keep the conflict out of the news, the situation remains dire, with combat still occurring in some places, food poverty, and a shattered economy.

The UN announced earlier this month that 13.4 million Syrians still require assistance, highlighting the need for increased humanitarian access.

Publish : 2021-09-14 13:34:00

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